PCO Group

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About PCO Group

The beginning of PCO’s story of success dates back to the 1980s and a research project of the founder, Dr. Emil Ott, who was working at the Technical University Munich for the Chair of Technical Electrophysics. While performing measurements with intensified slow scan cameras, Dr. Ott realized that the existing standard did not meet the sophisticated requirements of scientific applications – and so PCO came to life in 1987. With a small team of engineers Dr. Ott began to develop his first image intensified camera followed by several variations on the original model, geared to overcoming all the existing flaws and surpassing standards of the day. During these early years PCO developed a now well established core of advance technologies used as the foundation to develop cutting edge products. One result of the technology developed by Dr. Ott and his team of engineers was the market introduction of the world’s first camera for particle image velocimetry (PIV): the SensiCam – and there was a lot more to come.

In the early 1990s PCO expanded its business activities to the global market by successfully establishing an international network of highly trained sales partners and customers. We entered additional fields beyond traditional scientific research expanding the potential for our cameras’ applications in life science, automotive testing and even broadcasting. This step paved the way for a wide range of innovative highlights:

-DiCam: the first image intensifier video camera with 5ns exposure time – 1989

  • VarioCam: the first cooled long-term-exposure video camera with interline sensor – 1993
  • SensiCam: the first digital interline camera with 12-bit ADC – 1996
  • pixelfly: the first 12-bit machine vision camera – 2000
  • pco.dimax: the first 12-bit high-speed camera with broadcast image quality – 2009
  • sCMOS sensor: co-developer of a revolutionary new CMOS image sensor generation
  • pco.edge: the first sCMOS camera – 2010
  • CameraLink HS interface: founding member of the international CLHS standard committee
  • pco.flim: the first modulatable 40MHz camera based on a CMOS sensor – 2016

As of 2017, PCO has three decades of technical know-how and expert knowledge in the development and manufacturing of high-performing camera systems. In-house competence of all significant technical disciplines and partnering with leading image sensors manufactures ensures cutting edge sCMOS, CMOS and CCD technology for all PCO cameras.


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After gaining experience with image intensifier systems in its early days, PCO began developing a more extended ranging portfolio, allowing for greater adaptability in a variety of applications.

The most versatile sCMOS camera portfolio on the market – pco.edge family & pco.panda
As one of the three inventors and developers of the scientific CMOS (sCMOS) sensor, PCO is pioneering a new generation of high-performance cameras that are used in countless applications. Before introducing sCMOS to the market, scientific applications had to compromise between CMOS sensors for high frame rates or CCD sensors for high image quality. Now, thanks to new developments in sCMOS sensor design, users get the highest resolution, dynamic range, quantum efficiency and frame rates with the lowest readout noise. PCO’s sCMOS camera systems provide these desirable characteristics combined with special microscopy readout modes in a lightweight and compact camera body. Our sCMOS cameras are available with a variety of interface options; the Camera Link HS interface is the latest and fastest addition which enables ultra-fast data transmission up to 1.1 GByte/s.

High-speed cameras – pco.dimax family
PCO’s high-speed cameras offer resolutions up to 4 MPixel at maximum frame rates, best light sensitivity and real 12-bit dynamic range. Based on these improvements PCO established a new level of image and color quality within the field of high-speed imaging. All models come with a variety of trigger options and can be easily synchronized.

Luminescence decay time microscopy camera – pco.flim
The pco.flim camera system is the first luminescence decay time microscopy camera using a two-tap CMOS image sensor. Synchronized pixel modulation and excitation light enables the analysis of decay times in the range of 100ps to 100µs. A broad variety of trigger options allows the camera’s integration in versatile fields of applications like fluorescence lifetime imaging.

Intensified cameras
As a true successor of the very first PCO product, high-resolution MCP image intensifier camera systems are an important segment of our camera portfolio. With ultra-fast-shutter times down to 3ns and the ability to detect even single photons, this camera type is still the only answer to several challenging imaging requirements.

Specialized cameras
We have created a large selection of different scientific and industrial CCD cameras with interline transfer CCD image-sensor technology. The camera systems have dynamics in the 12 to 14-bit range and are designed with thermo-electrical cooling for extra-long exposure time performance, NIR and UV light detection or other specified fields of application.

PCO is supporting the constant advancement of science and industry by relentlessly pursuing technological perfection. Our cameras are used in scientific and industrial research, quality control, metrology and a large variety of other applications all over the world. PCO also develops customer-specific OEM solutions such as camera systems for industrial applications where high dynamics, extreme offset stability or other special features are required.

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The camera systems produced by PCO AG are cameras and scientific measuring instruments at the same time. Our high-tech systems are mostly the result of manual labor: highly specialized employees handle development and production at the Kelheim site. As in every cutting edge technology, dialogue with the user is the main focus of PCO’s approach. The PCO Group runs own establishments in America, PCO-TECH Inc. (formerly The Cooke Corporation) and Asia, PCO Imaging Asia Ptd.

Furthermore a strong network of local sales representatives exchanges with our customers worldwide. This global cooperation, with the in-house sales & marketing division plus the technical support team, ensures that PCO camera systems are developed in step with the individual requirements of the customer applications.

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